After summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in 2017 and raising more than half a million rand for Groote Schuur Hospital’s Renal Unit, students from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Surgical Society (SurgSoc) are at it again.
Last year they traded their hiking boots for running shoes and brought the adventure from Tanzania to the Mother City with a “scrub run” to raise funds to help eradicate the backlog of children waiting for operations at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
They are planning to repeat the run this year, and once again make the hospital the beneficiary of some much-needed funds.
The running action will take place during the annual Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in September. The SurgSoc contingent – a mix of medical and non-medical students – will line up in medical scrubs for a 10 km peace run to raise awareness and funds for Red Cross’s Weekend Waiting List Initiative.
For Savannah Verhage, a fourth-year medical student and the Surgical Society’s head of outreach, and her team, it’s more than just a race; it’s an opportunity to give back to a facility that “goes above and beyond” for the country and the continent’s most vulnerable children.
“Thanks to so many generous donations, we managed to raise R150 000 last year. We’re looking to match or surpass that figure this year,” she said.
Worthy weekend cause
According to Verhage, the hospital introduced the programme in 2011 to address the problem of its lengthy waiting list, by adding an extra day of surgeries – Saturday – to its operating schedule.
“Often these children would have to wait months for their necessary surgeries due to the extended waiting list, and emergency surgeries take preference.”
By doing so, the high number of relatively minor procedures was reduced, leaving more scope and flexibility for more complex medical cases on weekdays.
Thanks to the generous donations made in response to the 2018 Scrub Run, 138 children were treated last year. The list comprises 28 general paediatric surgeries, 18 orthopaedic surgeries, 15 ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeries, 10 urology surgeries, 20 plastic surgeries and 16 dental surgeries. In addition, 31 magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) were conducted.
“Often, these children would have to wait months for their necessary surgeries due to the extended waiting list, and emergency surgeries take preference,” Verhage explained.
She said the idea behind the peace run is to collect donations for every kilometre the participants complete. The initiative will use the GivenGain platform, a safe portal that allows donors to make their contributions straight into the charity’s account. GivenGain will manage all donations and all proceeds will go towards the Weekend Waiting List Initiative.
She urged the UCT community and Capetonians at large to get involved in the event and encouraged the private sector to come on board too.
“We need the participation and enthusiasm of students and corporates to support our Scrub Run; to make donations towards the initiative in order for us to exceed our 2018 target.
“Your generous donations will enable further life-altering surgeries for children who so desperately need them,” she said.
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